For a good cause

Alabama Living Magazine
Illustration by Dennis Auth

That time of year again.

That time when parents realize that schools simply do not have the resources to do things that parents want the schools to do, much less need them to do, or for that matter should do, so it is necessary for parents to go out and FUNDRAISE.

It is an Alabama tradition as old as education itself.  Parents raise money for their kids’ activities and other parents can chip in, knowing that their money will actually go where they want it to go.

When my children were being educated in Alabama public schools, I sold candy and bought candy, sold magazine subscriptions and bought magazine subscriptions, joined clubs and bought T-shirts.

As surely as school starts, funds are raised, and everyone pitches in.  If some kid wants you to buy pre-packaged taco-shells for the Spanish Club, you buy ‘em.

Gift wrap, candles, chocolate and nuts.  Stock up.

Not everything is bought or sold.

One school sponsored a Spelling Bee.  Teams composed of faculty, parents, and students competed.  Folks paid to watch community leaders prove Mark Twain right when he observed, “It’s a might poor man that can’t spell a word two ways.”

Another school hosted a golf tournament.

My favorite was the “Cow Patty Party.” The school football field was divided into numbered squares.  The squares were sold to parents and friends.  A couple of cows were turned loose on the field and whoever owned the square where the cow plopped a patty, split the pot with the school.

Unfortunately, coaches who jealously guard their turf balked at letting cows wander about, plopping patties here and there.

So, fundraisers began looking for an alternative.

Which was when I proposed a “Chicken Poop Party.”

I got the idea from the owners of a “pub and grub” establishment down in the Florida Panhandle.  They took a sheet of plywood, 4’ by 8’, and divided it into little squares, 1,100 of them, which they sold for $1 each.

Then they put a well-fed chicken on the board to do its “business.”

Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. According to press reports, the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco raided the place and arrested the owners for “keeping a gambling house involving a chicken.”

No lie.

That’s what the newspaper said.

However, finding no such restrictions in Alabama, so long as the contest was for charity and liquor wasn’t sold, I put the idea out there.

What was the response?

Crickets.  Quiet enough to hear ‘em.    

So, until Alabama schools see the wisdom of my plan, I guess golf will have to do.

No chickens allowed.

Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at


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